About A Door

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Years ago I discovered this door at an auction. The auction site was far from the city and “Junking” wasn’t the swishy chic business that it is today. I can not explain the allure to vintage. It is a portal to the past. Perhaps “old”appears truer, faithful, stronger. Or do certain pieces conjure an emotional response? Mirrored moments of love lost, coveted memories, and poignant sorrow from regret. That which we toss or lose, from people to things.

All of the above musings ring true. I also appreciate the dedication to craft, whether it be writing, painting, music or woodworking. The rewrites, brushstrokes, the sound bites, the turn of a leg or the dove tailed edges of a drawer, all suggest old world quality and showcase the artisan’s passion. Maybe it’s the passion piece that grabs, an ageless love that forever shines.

Yet what is it about a door? Throw open the door to reunion. Boot through the door in the heat of crime. Lock the door. Unlock it. Shut the door.

There is an old soul that lives in me. She flows through my eyes to show the house where the door once stood. “Open the door,” she whispers and my hand reaches forth to push upon the cracked ceramic plate. We stand in the kitchen, voyeurs of a life. She gestures to the heart of the room. A wooden table graces the centre. Flour is scattered on top,  a rolling-pin waits. We’ve come home.

***

I recall that day in the valley. The auction house was empty of people. Cast off pieces from lives lived dumped along hallways and atop sideboards. Did anyone care? The door leaned against a wall. Solid oak, it waited. Tall amidst a short pile of old metal watering cans, wooden handled rakes and a box of battered licence plates, it stood out-of-place. There was something bespoke about its simple yet majestic presence. Was it the art deco glass that elevated the door from humble to proud?

I paused, fell in love, tossed in a bid and left with a door.

Sadly, I left the door in an aging shed. For thirty years it lay on a wooden floor.  Forgotten, it languished in darkness, gathering dust. Spider egg sacs clung to the edges and nestled in the crooks and crannies. Moisture weathered the finish. It waited for someone to remember.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I wrestled it into the light. Gently, I cleaned and polished the glass, dusted off the egg sacs and sanded the oak.

Magic flowed and imagination sparked. We entered into a dance of sorts. My hands held the sandpaper block as fingers pressed and moved in step with the oak grain. I stepped away and judged. Far too lovely to lay dismissed in a shed.

An architectural piece, it will serve as a symbol of hope, “One door closes, another opens.” Its quiet presence states, grace others that stand on the threshold.

What is this door’s story?

I envision a rambling estate in the English countryside. Laughter rings from the cutting garden. Wee children flit as fairies do amongst the hollyhocks and sunflowers. A man walks the  long gravel path to the once well appointed home. He lifts his hat and knocks upon the door. It opens…

Midnight

You were born beneath an ireful star, launched into a destiny predetermined by a past. So, it is fitting that I wait for your arrival at the darkest hour of night.

In dreams, I am certain you return.

It is winter’s cusp, a time of confusion and crossover. Hail mixes with sunshine. Green shoots wither with frost. A time of sorrows passing and joy’s celebratory re-birth.

I wait on a barren beach, protected by crisscrossed driftwood, tucked in and sheltered from raging winds. Even the gulls have left.

In the distance, the thundering rollers call. Waves tumble and break to slip upon the shore. A heavenly mess, the water’s advance and retreat orchestrated with military precision.

From a safe vantage point, I see only unending swaths of gloom. The sky beyond is thickly brushed with inky, blue-black strokes. My eyes glance up toward the heavens. There waits the moon, full and ripe as a melon. Flickers of starlight sparkle through darkness.

A grey drop cloth of cloud obscures the distance. A split begins to form. Winds rip asunder the gauzy veil. A moon beam illuminates the watery path ahead. In the distance a red rowboat approaches. A man holds an oar.

Slowly, the shroud rises, carried off, held by the beaks of forty-eight diamond doves. Their wings rustle and heave as the curtain rises. You return in peace.

Lost at sea, a drift with one oar, the tides have brought you home. I leave my wind worn shelter and stand at the water’s edge.

Sailing closer to land, you fix your gaze upon mine. The ocean’s song rocks the rowboat with a final push to settle upon sand. My hand reaches out to steady you. Once on solid ground you straighten and pause. Reaching into your pocket, you pull out a stone. “This is for you.” You look away and lower your head.

“Thank you,” I reply.

Cool to first touch, the stone becomes warmer; a talisman nestled in my palm. I turn it and note the imperfections, see the flaws beneath a smooth surface. The passage of time has softened its form. The stone is actually glass. Once fragile and abandoned, its story has shaped over time. It ends in the form of a heart.

“Don’t cast it,” you say.

My fingers reach for a stick that rests upon the sand. Words whisper through wind, “This is for you.”

I press letters at the ocean’s edge.

D-I-G-N-I-T-Y

That is all I seek. It is the gift you gave back to me.

 

 

 

 

 

The Circle

The circle opened to let me in. A hand reached for mine. Warmth from a touch pulsed through starved veins; a fingertip graced my forearm. A heartbeat slowed.

We stood tall together. Ancestors, cousins, sisters, mothers and aunts all stepped forth, heads held high. You turned and faced us.

Strong women. We’ve known struggle. The brave ones; we’ve faced fear, cut it down with our light. Words tossed like stones only bruised our surface. We’ve known betrayals and chose to rise above the duplicity. Compassionate, we conquer hate with tolerance and love. Joyous we drink from celebration’s cup.

Honourable women. We’ve known loss, felt its icy fingers spear our hearts. Tears slipped like silk to cleanse sorrow’s stain. Babies born and buried, husbands lost, doors shut. Voiceless we screamed to a seemingly absent god, “ Have mercy.”

We’ve stumbled; momentarily lost our footing through the darkened forest. Our advice to you is simple.

Take shelter under the limbs of the finest tree. Pause within the stillness. Perhaps the only audible is the wind as it lifts the leaves to dance. Punched by noise leaves you fit to embrace silence. Can you hear the rustling?

Realize a presence, something more. It is their legion. They come to circle and say, “Your story, your voice, your being, matters.” Something enchanted, other worldly happens. Whispered voices murmur, “We are here. You are not alone.”

The circle opens to let you in. A hand reaches forth. Its touch pulses through hungry veins and warms you. A fingertip graces your forearm. You feel your heartbeat slow.

We stand tall together. Your ancestors, sisters, cousins, mothers and aunts. Strong women.

 

 

 

 

Alice Reflects

This is a “flashback” written in “Alice’s” POV. She is in the kitchen, recalls her son. Hope you enjoy reading this passage.

Alice stood in the kitchen and gazed through the window. It was oddly quiet for five o’clock, suppertime. The children from the neighbouring yard were silent. Thank God, she mused. Most afternoons, the neighbour’s offspring tussled and tumbled about the fence line. Their play stretched on for hours. Out of control crossed her mind. This thought from a woman who believed children should be seen and not heard. Alice lit the stove’s burner, felt the heat leap forth to warm her cold hand. She dropped the matchstick. All day she’d felt chilled, out of sorts.

She thought about when she’d gazed into the mirror earlier that morning, when she’d seen the face of an unrecognizable woman reflected back. Lines formed around the corners of her once bright eyes. Were the lines deeper? Silver threads edged along her hairline. Who was this time-worn woman who reflected back?

Focus on the task at hand, she reminded herself as she reached beneath the oven door and pulled out the warming drawer. Fingers searched through metal baking sheets until they felt the familiar handle of the blackened frying pan. This action caused her to smile. She recalled a memory from two years ago. Had it been two years? It was the day Roy unexpectedly returned home, catching the two sisters by surprise. The now faded mental image of her sister, Molly, as she held the heavy cast iron pan like a shield for protection, was comical.

Always, Roy haunted her thoughts. That was the reason Alice so often felt out of sorts and irritable. When he snuck into her head, she got busy. Placing the frying pan onto the stove element, she carefully poured out the correct amount of oil, just enough to brown the waiting onions. Soon the heady scent of caramelized onions filled the tiny room. Alice trimmed a small cut of beef and added it to the pan. As she stirred the mixture, the meat sizzled and browned. Cooking comforted her, gave purpose and routine to each day. It was just the two of them now. Did she mean anything, anymore to her husband?

She recalled Roy’s last visit home, checked the tallies on the new calendar that hung beside the telephone. When last year’s addition ran out, she added the number 365 to the present copy. It was exactly two years and fifteen days ago. The calendar protected the evidence, an ink mark scrawled through each day that passed, signs of her son’s absence. Proof that he was remembered.

Alice didn’t know how to fix her broken family, didn’t realize that it was simple. Shame and pride beat her down. Was she a good enough mother? Pride demanded she hold her head high and whispered back, you were.

Unconvinced, Alice thought about the last time she sat with Roy, remembered the bottled up anger that simmered in silence as they sipped tea. When Roy had left, he slammed the back door. She had noticed, even winced as the door hit the frame. After such a loud exit, Molly startled, hurried to the front door to wave goodbye to her nephew. As he roared off on his flashy motorcycle, Molly had quietly shut the door and marched back into the kitchen. She saw her sister, the cup poised mid-air.

“Alice.”

Stone faced, Alice set her cup onto the saucer and turned toward her older sister.

“Did you have to be so aloof?”

Alice tightened. Molly noticed her sister’s purposeful silence. At last, Alice commented,

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Of course you do, Alice. You didn’t say a meaningful word to the lad.”

Molly moved closer to the table, positioned herself directly in front of her younger sister.

“Roy comes home, after two years gone and all you can do is sit silent, sipping tea?”

Alice set her jaw, looked away.

“It was Roy’s choice to leave in the first place, “Alice said.

Enraged, Molly grabbed her sister’s wrist, a bit too hard. It hurt. Her words bit Alice.

“For the love of Mike, Alice. Everyone makes mistakes. Including you.”

Alice felt her cheeks warm at Molly’s comment, a reminder of a past she would rather forget. A secret they shared. She shook free of Molly’s grip.

Molly continued, “No one sent you away.”

Alice bristled, “I didn’t send Roy away.”

Molly’s words flew back, “You never gave him a reason to stay.”

The Messenger

This is a draft version of the narrator’s “voice;”I will continue to polish the piece. The narrator’s name is, Justus and he is about to leave on a mission. It is from a fictional piece I am writing. This chapter is in the narrator’s POV.

 

“Justus, Get up! Hurry.”

 

Urgent words enter my dream. Their pitch notes rising as I attempt to ignore. The voice calling in my ear speaks louder. “Justus wake up.” I push the covers away from my somnolent body and rise.

“It’s your turn. Go.”

Hurrying to the meeting zone, I stumble, the residue of sleep lingering in its peaceful hold, as I step forth. Pushing back a lock of dark hair and coughing to clear my throat, I straighten. It is time.

I belong to a group of watchmen, messengers from the past; we work for the present and future. Our mandate: listen to another’s story, understand and give voice to it; we are conduits between the souls and their living. The universe is made of tiny stories.
Some people call us angels, which we are not. We are messengers, invisible souls; we walk alongside those lost to grief and sorrow. We know your stories well; we are kin.

Imagine a crowd of people, all strangers. Yet, you pause, turn around and take a second glance back. There is familiarity in a gait, knock, or smile. Something about the way that individual speaks captures your momentary attention. You swear you’ve seen that someone before. The sighting haunts and returns. You believe in happenstance yet you are wrong. Events occur for a reason.

You are never alone. That deer you saw, at the precise moment your mind recalls a loved one’s fondness for all rural fauna is not coincidence. The clock that chimes on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, the one you thought broken, is planned. Consider carefully. The face you see, as it flashes by, in a newborn’s glance. Remember these souls from your past.

 

Every family is an infinite circle of souls. It helps to envision this symbol of continuous unity. The circle enlarges when new members are born or brought in. When death knocks, the circle shrinks. As long as the members hold to one another, reaching forth, the thread that connects remains strong. It is only when one lets go, steps away; when no one reaches back, that the thread that binds, breaks. That is when we enter your world.

It has been awhile since my last assignment, * years to be exact. I recall the details of that mission: to stand beside a family member. Can hope triumph? Love heals; there is nothing it cannot conquer.

 

Retrospection

My lately~ has been retrospective; maybe you can relate. This morning I attacked the basement, cleaning and placing loose photos and memories into their corresponding scrapbooks with hope that one day these bits of memory will be meaningful for family. I came across a memoir of sorts, once tossed into a box, given to me by a much missed “aunt.” In it: a family’s story,the lives and loves of a family line.
It was handed to me as the keeper of sorts, in the hope that one day I would share these stories with my own children. I was too young to appreciate the message then. Instead of cleaning I opened the binder and read. What struck me was the constant thread of hope; that even in difficult circumstances, family hung on- together. This family’s story rode through tough times, loss brought them closer and their lives grew richer. They reached out, included one another, always for their children, and valued time with each other. Their circle grew stronger.
More than anything I have sought to hold family close. My wish is that one day, family will be cleaning up their basements and pick up a binder or memory box. I hope they read the stories of family or touch the items, hold to hope and love. May the message come to them at just the right moment; give them reason to pause and remember, there is

nothing that love can’t conquer.

To Linger

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Grace lifted the lingering snow-globe, the last of the holiday decorations. She hesitated to put this one away. Safe underneath a cloche of glass, the miniature scene bespoke coveted memories. Be careful, they whispered.

With a gentle shake of her wrist, tiny flakes began to tumble over the glimmering steeple. The tall structure sparkled as if lit by an inner light. Puffs of sugared snow drifted to settle around the base of the church, softening the straight, stern edges of the tiny building. Behind the church stood a tall evergreen, now dusted with sparkle. Two simple shapes, yet each held profound meaning to the woman whose hands cradle glass.

Grace yearned to go back, return to the beginning, fix it. Life held promise; it made sense, was kind. She recalled the wedding photograph; the young couple laughed as they exited through the open doors of the quaint, country church. Light shone through them; their faces appeared lit from within, eyes shone forth hope. A tall, handsome man, earnest and true, steadfast with integrity. He tripped and fell. The glass shattered.

     Put it back together. Words easy to speak, harder to accomplish. An ocean rolled between us and seasons changed until it became, always winter.

 

Grace clings too tightly to the past, protects the broken pieces. She keeps the shards in a locked box, cradled within her heart, takes comfort from the pain now layered upon her being. There is merit in learning compassion the hard way. Still~ to know one was loved. Isn’t that what we all wish for? An unbreakable connection to another. Walk away, be silent, let it go.

The still setting under glass rests upon the oak sideboard. Grace glances at the snow-globe. The contents remain calm and silent, protected underneath the cover of a fragile dome. Emotionless. Time has honed her senses. She appreciates beauty; notices frost patterns that tattoo the earth; shrinks when the warmth of the sun kisses her cheek. That’s what happens when you believe in happy endings.